The Cavaliers suddenly have significant depth at the two-guard spot.
That lack of depth was a significant problem last season, with injuries to Collin Sexton and Ricky Rubio crushing any secondary playmaking contribution.
The Cavs also find themselves suddenly flush with wings.
Ochai Agbaji, Isaac Okoro, Caris LeVert, and Cedi Osman all figure to see various amounts of time this season.
But there’s a decent case that the Cavs still lack a top-tier wing, someone who takes over a game in a pivotal moment.
Someone Coach Bickerstaff can trust in Game Seven of a playoff series.
Agbaji is an unproven rookie, LeVert is a shaky fit who suffered from his own injury problems, and Osman is a nice rotation piece, but not a starter.
Could Okoro be that guy?
By The Numbers
Okoro has never demonstrated a sustained level of success in the NBA.
Coming into the league, Bleacher Report provided the following write-up of Okoro’s game:
“Defensive toughness and versatility are Isaac Okoro’s NBA calling cards. At 6’6″ and 225 pounds, he’s built to guard the opposing team’s top scoring guard, wing or forward. Okoro won’t take over games offensively, but he’s efficient, and he’ll find a way to fit into an off-ball role. Scouts want to see if he can build on the flashes of playmaking and improve his shooting, a debated topic within NBA front offices.”
The report was not far off.
Defense has indeed been Okoro’s calling card so far in the young wing’s career.
Zach Lowe says the Cavs should consider trading for Donovan Mitchell
“LeVert, Lauri Markkanen, Isaac Okoro, Cedi Osman for Bogdanovic, Mitchell and…let’s say three picks, 25, 27 and 29…if you can somehow get Mitchell with [Garland, Allen and Mobley] I think that’s interesting” pic.twitter.com/6Sxs6SjOd0
— Cavaliers Nation (@WeAreCavsNation) July 22, 2022
He does his best defensive damage beyond the arc, holding opposing snipers to a 30% make rate.
And last season was a major improvement upon his rookie campaign; in 2020-21, Okoro managed an unsightly 103 offensive rating and a 117 defensive rating.
In year two, he flipped those two numbers, finishing with a 120 offensive rating and a 113 defensive rating.
Okoro isn’t particularly careful with the rock, though.
He posted a 10.4% turnover rate last season, which was down from his rookie 12.0%.
If Okoro has gotten by on his defense so far, I’d like to suggest that his offense isn’t truly that far behind.
Last season, Okoro showed perhaps more than just flashes of potential.
From December to March, his field goal percentage never dipped below 50%.
Further, after the All-Star Break, Okoro was almost a different player on offense.
Prior to the pause, Okoro shot 46.4% from the field and 31.6% from three.
Always feels good to be back https://t.co/79g5utdyXR
— IsaacOkoro (@isaacokoro303) July 26, 2022
But in the 24 games to close out the season, Okoro shot 51.4% from the field and 44.2% from three.
And those numbers came with little change in volume; in fact, Okoro’s shot volume actually increased after the All-Star Break.
He also hit nearly 90% of his field goals in March, a sign that his shooting is on the mend.
Okoro’s defense did take a hit during that final 24 games, though.
While his offensive rating exploded to 127, his defensive rating ballooned back to 120.
This suggests that while Okoro is capable of decent defense and offense, he’s yet to figure out how to put both together cohesively.
That’s been Okoro’s Achilles heel.
If he puts both together at the same time, he’ll be a huge reason why Cleveland finds success next season.
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